Defense Department mishaps

Report: Systemic Aircrew, Maintenance Issues Root Cause of DOD Mishap Rates

A lack of flying hours and overworked maintainers are contributing to high rates of crashes and other aviation mishaps, according to a new Congressionally mandated report, which called on the services to quickly overhaul how they manage maintainers and pilot training. The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, in a report released Dec. 3, looked at more than 6,000 aviation mishaps, including 198 deaths, 157 aircraft destroyed, and about $9.41 billion in losses, from 2013 to 2018. None of the losses were due to combat operations. Although the Air Force saw a decrease in “Class A” mishaps—the most serious, which involved a death or more than $2 million in damage—there was an increase in “Class C” mishaps, largely because of maintenance or other on-the-ground issues.
Sen. Jim Inhofe

House, Senate Reach Bipartisan Agreement on Massive Defense Policy Bill

As the final days of 2020 count down, House and Senate negotiators have agreed on sweeping defense policy legislation that offers nearly $732 billion to the armed forces in fiscal 2021. “The FY21 NDAA focuses on maintaining the strength of our defense enterprise as our nation grapples with a once-in-a-generation health crisis and a heightened social crisis against the backdrop of sustained systemic discrimination,” the House Armed Services Committee said in a summary of the agreement, now in its 60th year. But the legislation has ballooned to more than 5,300 pages across its text and accompanying explanatory report, as lawmakers across Capitol Hill increasingly piggyback on what is seen as a “must-pass” annual bill.
Col. Tyler R. Schaff

3 Air Force Bases Delay PT Tests Until April

Airmen at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, and Scott Air Force Base, Ill., won’t have to take official physical fitness assessments until April 1, 2021. Air Force guidance issued earlier this year authorizes commanders to make these kinds of delays, Air Force spokesperson Capt. Leah F. Brading confirmed in an email to Air Force Magazine. Although there have been two other force-wide PT testing delays due to the pandemic, the service has yet to announce a third postponement and is slated to resume testing on Jan. 1, 2021.

Hypersonic Missile Coming Five Years Faster Thanks to Acquisition Reform

New Pentagon acquisition rules are making it possible to field the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) hypersonic missile five years faster than would be possible under the old rules, top USAF uniformed acquisition official Lt. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson said Dec. 3. He also touted new rules for speeding acquisition of the F-15EX, but “implored” Congress and the Pentagon to go easy on acquisition “mistakes” driven by the push for speed, saying the workforce will resume a risk-averse posture if they get punished for thinking innovatively.
Navy Names Future Aircraft Carrier Dorris Miller During MLK Jr. Day Ceremony

Trump Nominates Aquilino to Lead INDOPACOM

President Donald J. Trump nominated Adm. John C. Aquilino to lead U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Pentagon announced on Dec. 3. If confirmed by the Senate, Aquilino—who has led U.S. Pacific Fleet since May 2018—will replace Admiral Philip S. Davidson. Aquilino would take command of the Defense Department’s “priority theater” as the U.S. military shifts its focus from decades of counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East to great power competition with China and Russia, and as the department fields and tests new military capabilities in the region.
Congressional Visit to Alabama Army National Guard's 167th TSC

Space Force Advocate to Lead GOP on House Defense Panel

Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, a leading Space Force proponent, will become the top Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee, his office said Dec. 3. “It’s an honor to be selected by my colleagues to lead the Republicans as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee for the 117th Congress,” he said in a release. “The nature of warfare is changing, and we must adapt accordingly. … I will work to modernize our military, combat our rising adversaries, and dominate the battlefields of this century.” He’ll take over for Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who is retiring when his term ends Jan. 3, 2021.
New START

Clock is Ticking on New START Extension

President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will have just 16 days after Inauguration Day in January to strike a deal with Russia to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. If they fail to agree, the last remaining pact limiting the two countries' nuclear arsenals will expire. Rose Gottemoeller, who previously served as NATO’s deputy secretary-general and as U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, has long been an advocate of a five-year extension. She argues the “predictability and stability” it will provide is necessary as the U.S. looks to modernize its nuclear capabilities over the next decade.

Virtual Events: Bierbauer, Cooter, Marks on Mitchell’s ‘Aerospace Nation’

On Jan.22, The Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host an installment of its “Aerospace Nation” series featuring the authors of the new book “Never Mind, We'll Do It Ourselves: The Inside Story of How a Team of Renegades Broke Rules, Shattered Barriers, and Launched a Drone Warfare Revolution.” Former Central Intelligence Agency case officer Alec Bierbauer, retired USAF Col. Mark Cooter, and co-author Michael Marks give us an inside look into the story behind the armed Predator program and the dawn of unmanned warfare. The think tank will post event video on its website and YouTube page after the live event.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Is What It’s Like for Air Force Nurses Deployed to Fight COVID-19

Air Force Times

The Air Force has deployed dozens of nurses to hospitals throughout North Dakota and El Paso, Texas, to ease the strain on local medical personnel trying to fight the coronavirus pandemic. For those Airmen, like registered nurse Capt. Michael Robbins, it means lengthy, 12-hour-plus shifts in full protective equipment. It means caring for patients—mostly elderly—by providing everything from baths to oral care to clearing their airways. And it means dropping into an entirely new workplace, with life-or-death stakes, and quickly becoming part of an already established team.

Marine Corps Declares IOC for F-35C Variant

Inside Defense

The declaration means the Marine Corps has enough mission-ready aircraft and trained Marines and pilots to deploy the F-35C onto aircraft carriers, a Marine Corps press release said.

Journey to JADC2

Air Force Magazine

Joint all-domain command and control is driving change throughout the Air and Space Forces. Check out our latest on the quest for greater interconnectedness across the battlefield.

Stratollites Show Promise for Southern Command

Aviation Week Network

U.S. Southern Command is looking for new technologies that can provide long-endurance, wide-area surveillance over maritime and littoral areas and that can transition into a program of record, SOUTHCOM Commander Navy Adm. Craig Faller said Dec. 2.